On the 24th of September, Shinshu JALT was fortunate to have Nathaniel Reed as a guest speaker for an event on MOOCs and professional development.
The day started with Gregory Birch sharing the results of his published research on the role of JTEs and ALTs throughout various schools within Nagano and Toyama prefecture. Greg’s work highlighted the differences in workplace roles within different prefectures and also levels of education. While English education policies may be trying to align role structures, the reality in the workplace is very different.
Nathaniel’s one hour presentation spent a majority of the time going through the current state of the ALT program in Japan. This included the history of the ALT program, the original intention and how the nature of the job has changed over time. His presentation also gave context to the issues currently facing the position of an ALT, from the teachers themselves as well as from the teachers, schools and administrations they work with. These include things such as culture shock, language barriers, JTEs failing to utilise their ALTs and the high turnover rate which sees many ALTs leaving only once they become experienced and proficient at their jobs.
This context served to highlight the increasing need for ALTs to pursue their own professional development, which is why he founded the Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) – ALTTraining online. Nathaniel has called upon the help from various language teachers with years of experience to help contribute in creating content available for anybody to access online for free. The MOOC is already live (alttrainingonline.com) with some content available, although he is predicting all the courses and services to be ready by April next year.
Nathaniel Reed is still looking for people who may be interested to help with the MOOC in contributing content, proofreading or any other ideas that may assist the site. If you are interested please visit his website and contact him directly.